(from Latin turbo, “tornado”) is the irrational and often intense fear of tornadoes. Turbophobia is a separate term for lilapsophobia, which is fear of tornadoes and tropical cyclones.
Like many phobias, turbophobia is caused by an unwanted experience, specifically tornadoes that cause injuries, destruction, or loss of loved ones to self or others they know. People who survive the deadly storms should seek professional advice, especially to determine if a person is suffering post-traumatic stress disorder. This phobia can even be caused by learning news about tornadoes using the media, like television, internet, radio, or newspaper, even though they happened far away from homes. If a person learns that someone in the family have the phobia, then that person is more likely to suffer from it.
Mental and emotional symptoms of turbophobia include obsessive thoughts, difficulty thinking, feeling of unreality or being detached, fear of losing control or going crazy, anticipatory anxiety, terror, and desire to flee or hide.
Physical symptoms of turbophobia include dizziness, shaking, palpitations, lightheadedness, fainting, shortness of breath, accelerated heartbeat, chest pain or discomfort, shaking, feeling of choking, sweating, nausea, and numbness or tingling sensations.
Many turbophobes also suffer autophobia, fear of being alone. Sufferers often make arrangements with people they know to help soothe the fear.
Turbophobes spend a lot of time watching the weather or checking weather online to keep an eye on for oncoming storms. When a storm hits, sufferers either watch for severe weather alerts constantly or take cover, like under a bed or in a windowless room. In the extreme cases, sufferers take tornado shelter as soon as rain starts falling, usually in the basement or storm shelter. Sufferers may often use a NOAA weather radio to listen to tornado warning bulletins, and mobile phones that can watch the radar and that can alert the user while in shelter. If the sufferer also fears loud noises, such as tornado sirens, or weather radio alarms, this may aggravate the fear, and may cause the sufferer to panic. If the sufferer fears the alarms in general, the sufferer may have ligyrophobia, or the irrational fear of loud noises.
Like astraphobia, turbophobia is a common fear for children, although less common. Because children are just learning to distinguish between fantasy and reality, major storm broadcasts on television or discussion by parents can cause fear that the storm is coming with a tornadic potential.
Because fear is a part of normal child development, this phobia is not diagnosed unless if persisted for more than six months. Parents should conquer the child’s fear by telling them how rare the major storms that hit hometown area are.
Like many other phobias, turbophobia can often be treated using cognitive-behavioral therapy, but if it stems from post-traumatic stress disorder, then alternative therapy may be more recommended.
In popular culture
In the 1996 film Twister, Dr. Jo Harding (Helen Hunt), while becoming a storm chaser, suffers from turbophobia due to her father’s death in a tornado when she was a child.
The most notable case of turbophobia suffer is Karin R. Herrmann, who lives in Miami, Oklahoma. She began suffering the phobia following the 2011 Joplin tornado. Her phobia lasted for approximately six months until she developed ways to treat her with the help from her husband.
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